ISABELLA OF SPAIN (ISABEL LA CATÓLICA)

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Message  Javier Ven 08 Fév 2019, 6:35 pm

ISABELLA OF SPAIN

BY WILLIAM THOMAS WALSH


FOREWORD

This book attempts to tell the amazing story of Queen Isabel of Castile as it appeared to her contemporaries, against the blood-spattered background of her own times. It is a tale so dramatic, so fascinating, that it needs no embellishing or piecing out with the wisdom—or folly—of another age. To probe the inner cosmos of men and women long dead by the light of a pseudo-science, to strip away with pitiless irony all noble or generous appearances, to prize open with an air of personal infallibility the very secret hinges of the door to that ultimate sanctuary of the human conscience which is inviolable even to father confessors— that is an office for which I have neither the taste nor the talent; and if I have fallen unawares into any such pitfalls of the devils of megalomania, I beg forgiveness in advance. Under the naïve rhetoric of the fifteenth-century chroniclers there is ample material for what Joseph Conrad called rendering the vibration of life and Michelet called the resurrection of the flesh, without resorting to subjective interpretation. And it has seemed all the more imperative to follow the sources objectively and let them speak for themselves as far as possible, because, strange as it may appear, the life of Columbus’s patron and America’s godmother has never been told completely and coherently in our language.

For nearly a century the “official” biography has been Prescott’s History of the Reign of Ferdinand and Isabella. He was a careful and patient scholar to whom we owe a debt of no small size. Yet he was incapable of understanding the spirit of fifteenth-century Spain, because with all his erudition he could never wholly forget the prejudices of an early nineteenth-century Bostonian. And modern research has opened up treasures of source-material unknown to him. Llórente, whom he followed with blind confidence on the Inquisition, has been proved not only wildly inaccurate but deliberately dishonest, and is distrusted by all reliable historians; many of the original documents unearthed by Lea and the extremely valuable ones published by Padre Fidel Fita in the Bulletin of the Royal Academy of History at Madrid were not available until half a century or more after Prescott wrote. The Columbian investigations of Harrisse, Thacher and others have almost completed the portrait of a Discoverer who is human rather than legendary. The studies of Señor Amador de los Rios, Dr. Meyer Kayserling and M. Isidore Loeb have shed new light upon the history of the Spanish Jews. Bergenroth’s decoding of the Spanish state papers, many of them still in cipher when Prescott wrote, has provided a new approach to Isabel’s relations with France, England, and the Holy Roman Empire.

Nearly all the biographies of Isabel in the English language, and some in French, have followed the conclusions of Prescott and have adopted his attitude, even when they have made use of later material. When not openly hostile they have generally approached the fifteenth century with an air of condescension—the worst possible attitude for an historian, for condescension is not a window, but a wall. Even to begin to understand a person (the representative of an age), you must have enough sympathy to imagine yourself standing in his place, holding the same beliefs, having the same information, feeling the same emotions. You can never achieve more than a caricature of him if you keep reminding yourself that he is a medieval ignoramus with faults and passions that you imagine you do not share. You will understand him better if you say at the outset, “Let us see what he believed about himself and the world, and assume as a working hypothesis that it is true: would I, in his place, have done differently?” Humility is the mother of all virtues, even in the writing of history.

Again, to understand a woman crusader who changed the course of civilization and the aspect of the entire world, as Isabel did, it is essential to begin by visualizing the European stage on which she appeared. When she was born there was no such nation as Spain. She was European, Christian, in consciousness, rather than Spanish.

All the chroniclers of the time—Bernaldez, Pulgar, and a generation later, Zurita—keep the reader informed of what is going on not only in Spain, but in all parts of Europe, as an English or American newspaper records the happenings of the world. Colmenares, writing a history of the city of Segovia, takes notice of the fall of Constantinople. For Christendom, the whole European culture, was an entity more real to the average man than the limits of the country he lived in. Yet some of the modem biographies of Isabel manage to convey the impression that Italy and France were as remote in her scheme of things as Java is in ours. Only by recapturing her concept of a unified Christian civilization can we begin to comprehend the world she was born in.

It was a dying world. The west was like some old ship eaten by intestine fires and ready to founder under the waves of a triumphant Mohammedanism. For Christendom had hardly subdued the barbarism that snuffed out the light of Rome when it was forced to begin a titanic struggle for its very existence—not merely the First Crusade or the Fourth Crusade that our histories mention, but a supercrusade that kept Europe on the defensive for a thousand years, from the early eighth to the late seventeenth century. Even the fanaticism and the militarism of our medieval ancestors were imposed upon them by the continual necessity of warding off attacks by fanatical and militaristic foes. After the barbarian migrations came the ravages of Magyars and Vikings;and finally the ruthless millions of Islam.

When Isabel was born, the Turks had been steadily carrying fire and scimitar through eastern Europe, slaying men, women and children; they had reached the Danube, overrun Asia Minor, taken lower Hungary, gobbled up a great part of the Balkans. In Isabel’s third year, 1453, they blasted their way into Constantinople and made themselves masters of Greece. Successive Popes exhorted the European rulers to forget their quarrels and jealousies and unite to save Christendom from being overwhelmed. But Christian princes were too busy fighting Christian princes from one end of Europe to the other. France and England, at the end of the Hundred Years’ War—it was only twenty years before Isabel’s birth that Saint Joan of Arc was burned—were exhausted; yet Louis XI was preparing to crush feudalism in France, and England was on the eve of the Wars of the Roses that rent her for a generation. Poland had been desperately defending herself from predatory German barons on the west and Lithuanian heathen on the east. The survivors in Hungary, Albania and the Balkans were rallying to make an almost hopeless resistance to the Mohammedans. Italy was divided into rival states, chief of which were Rome, Naples, Milan, Florence, Genoa, and Venice—all involved in dynastic and commercial feuds, and corrupted by too much wealth and by the paganism that had returned in the shadow of the Renaissance. No one but the people on the first line of defence would listen to the Popes. The Emperor Frederick III, ruler of all central Europe, was too busy planting a garden and catching birds. The King of Denmark stole the money given for a crusade from the sacristy of the cathedral at Roskilde. And all this while Mohammed II, the Grand Turk, was fighting his way to the east shore of the Adriatic, and seemed certain to carry out the threat of a predecessor, Bajezid, nicknamed “Lightning,” to feed his horses on the altar of Saint Peter’s in Rome.

TBC...

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Message  Javier Sam 09 Fév 2019, 5:06 am

Meanwhile the Mohammedans had long since driven a wedge into western Europe, by way of Spain. Of the three great peninsulas that Christendom had planted, like colossal feet, in the Mediterranean, they now possessed Greece, and were preparing to assail Italy. But Spain had been their battleground for nearly eight hundred years.

Hardly had the Mohammedan Arabs subdued and organized the Berbers of north Africa when they were invited by the Spanish Jews to cross the nine-mile strip of water at Gibraltar and possess themselves of the Christian kingdom. The plot was discovered, and the Jews sternly punished. A second attempt, however, was successful at a moment when the Visigoth monarchy was perishing of its own follies. “It remains a fact,” says the Jewish Encyclopedia, “that the Jews, either directly or through their co-religionists in Africa, encouraged the Mohammedans to conquer Spain.” In 709 the Arab general Tarik led an army of Berbers, in which there were many African Jews, across the straits. Defeating and slaying King Roderigo, with the aid of Christian traitors, at the great battle of Jerez de la Frontera, they carried death in all directions through the peninsula. Wherever they went, the Jews threw open to them the gates of the principal cities, so that in an incredibly short time the Africans were masters of all Spain save the little kingdom of Asturias in the northern mountains, where the Christian survivors who were unwilling to accept Islam reassembled and prepared to win back their heritage. Meanwhile the Berbers entered France along the Mediterranean coast. The whole western culture of Rome was in jeopardy a second time, from the same enemy; for by a striking coincidence it was the same Berber race that had followed Hannibal across the Alps into Italy nearly a thousand years before. The fate of all Christendom hung on the issue of a battle.

The glorious victory of Charles Martel in 732 saved our culture; but Spain remained lost to Christendom for centuries. Christian churches were turned into mosques, old Roman cities were gradually transformed into the oriental pleasure-grounds of the caliphs. Córdoba under the Ommiad, Abd er Rahman III, in the tenth century was more beautiful than Bagdad, and next to Constantinople the most magnificent city in Europe. Medicine, mathematics and philosophy were taught in its schools. At a time when the Christians to the north were fighting for the mere right to exist, the caliphs enjoyed an income greater than those of all the kings of Europe combined.

Slowly and painfully, but with hope born of their faith, the Christian knights fought their way south into the lands of their ancestors. With much expense of blood they gradually carved out five small Christian states: Castile and Leon on the great central plateau; Navarre in the shadow of the Pyrenees; Aragon, originally a Frankish colony, in the north-east; and Catalonia—remnant of the old Spanish March—on the eastern coast. Alfonso VI of Castile took Toledo in 1085—though the Saracens, reinforced by hordes of Almorávides from Africa, later defeated him. Alfonso Sanchez recovered Saragossa and the sacred site where Saint James the Apostle (Santiago) had built the first Christian church in Spain. Aragon and Catalonia united. Portugal became independent in 1143. And then, in 1160, the military failure of Alfonso VIII placed in peril all that had been gained.

At a critical moment the great voice of Pope Innocent III, summoning all Europe to join in the Spanish Crusade, prevented a second catastrophe. Ten thousand knights and 100,000 infantry came from France and Germany in time to reinforce the armies of Castile and Aragon. They vanquished the mighty Saracen host in the battle of Las Navas de Tolosa in 1212, crushed them utterly, left 200,000 of them dead on the field. It was the turning-point of the age-long Crusade. In the following generation Fernando III, the Saint, recaptured Córdoba, Seville, Jerez and Cádiz. Luxuriant Andalusia, south of Castile, was regained. When the fifteenth century began, nothing was left to the Moors but the Kingdom of Granada in the extreme south. It was, however, the richest, most fertile, most delightful part of Spain, populous and warlike, sustained by abundant farm lands and pasturage, and protected from military attack by the enormous natural fortifications formed by the snowy peaks of the Sierra Nevada. The city of Granada and the score of almost impregnable towns that encircled it could put into the field a well-equipped army of 50,000. But even more menacing to the security of the Christian kingdoms was the fact that the Moors could obtain almost unlimited reinforcements and supplies from the Mohammedan millions of Africa, and at short notice. So long as Islam retained any foothold in Spain, there was perpetual danger that the seven hundred years of heroic effort might yet be lost.

To prevent such a débâcle, to complete the reconquest, Christian Spain had need of political unity under a strong leader. But the problem of unity was far more intricate than the one with which Louis XI was beginning to grapple in France. He, too, had an arrogant feudal nobility to suppress, anarchy to reduce to order, a bankrupt country to make productive. But he had an enormous advantage in the fact that his people were so nearly one in race and were one in religion. There was no such fundamental unity to build upon in Spain, where the Jews constituted a powerful minority resisting all efforts at assimilation. Of the openly professing Jews of the synagogue there were only some 200,000 in 1450, and they were allowed complete freedom of worship. But far more numerous were those Jews—there must have been at least 2,000,000 of them—who observed the rites and customs of the Old Law in secret, while outwardly they pretended to be Christians. They were called Conversos or New Christians. The Jews of the synagogue sometimes called them Marranos, from the Hebrew Maranatha, “the Lord is coming,” in derision of their belief, or feigned belief, in the divinity of Jesus Christ. The Conversos were assimilated in a superficial sense, for many of them married into the noblest families in Spain, enjoyed all the privileges of Christians, and had gradually gathered into their hands most of the wealth, the political power, and even the control of taxation; but it was generally felt that in a crisis they would prove to be Jews at heart, enemies of the Christian faith, and the allies, as in the past, of the half-oriental and circumcised Moors. How to fuse elements almost as immiscible as oil and water into a unity capable of resolving chaos into order and pushing back to the Mediterranean the western salient of the mighty battle-line of Islam—that was the challenge that the times had hurled at Isabel’s immediate ancestors, and found them wanting. It was a task which, if at all possible, demanded constructive genius of the highest order. By some mysterious ordering of circumstance, by a falling out of events more romantic than fiction, it was committed to the hands of a woman.

TBC...

ISABELLA OF SPAIN (ISABEL LA CATÓLICA) 23915826_911853545635937_7235299965713203002_n
Javier
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Message  Javier Dim 10 Fév 2019, 5:11 am

CHAPTER I

THE BIRTH AND CHILDHOOD OF THE INFANTA ISABEL—HER EDUCATION—LIFE AT ARÉVALO


Isabel was born to the purple in no ordinary sense. She was more than the daughter of King Juan II of Castile and his second wife, Doña Isabel, of Portugal. Under the pink and white of her skin pulsed the blood of crusaders and conquerors, the blood of Alfred the Great, of William the Conqueror, of the iron Plantagenet Henry II and the fiery Eleanor of Aquitaine, of Edward I and Edward III of England, of Philip the Bold of France, of Alfonso the Wise of Castile. She was descended on both sides from Louis IX of France and his cousin Fernando III of Castile, both kings, both crusaders and both canonized saints. She derived Lancastrian blood through both parents from John of Gaunt, brother of the Black Prince. Yet her arrival in a chaotic world on the twenty-second of April, 1451, caused hardly a stir even in the little town of Madrigal. Her father, who was at Segovia, announced the event by proclamation: “I, the King . . . make known to you that by the grace of Our Lord this Thursday just past, the Queen, Doña Isabel, my dear and well-beloved wife, was delivered of a daughter; the which I tell you that you may give thanks to God.” The Infanta was baptized a few days later in the Church of Saint Nicholas, with no especial pomp or display. When the voices of her sponsors rumbled among the arches and arabesques of the old church, renouncing Satan and all his works on her behalf, there was no prophet at hand to cry out that one of the most remarkable women in all history had been born.

During the long and painful confinement of her mother, there were certain symptoms of poisoning which, although they yielded to antidotes, left the Queen a victim of a chronic nervous depression. In an epoch when the illnesses of the great were often ascribed to the malice of their foes, it was inevitable that people should whisper the name of Don Alvaro de Luna, Constable of Castile and Grand Master of the Order of Santiago, especially as that gifted and charming gentleman had long been suspected of having murdered the King’s first wife, Doña María of Aragon, and her sister, the Dowager Queen Leonor of Portugal.

Lean, dark and sinister, exquisite in silk and jewels, handsome even in his late middle age, this nephew of the anti-Pope Benedict had been absolute master, for a long generation, of King Juan and of all Castile. He looted the Crown to make himself fabulously rich, he corrupted the Church by naming unworthy friends for benefices, he alienated the nobles by his insolence and arrogance, he infuriated the populace by giving high offices and privileges to Jews and Moors, he sowed discord in Aragon, Navarre, France and Italy for his own ends, and he led a life so dissolute that many blamed him for all the moral decay that made the Court notorious. It was in his time, said the chronicler Palencia, that Castile saw the beginning of certain infames tratos obscenos, “infamous obscene customs which have since increased so shamefully." Intimate friend as well as prime minister, he dominated the King completely. He told him what to wear, what to eat, and even when to enter the bedroom of Queen Maria. Various interpretations were attached to the royal complacency. Many suspected the Constable of sorcery. Some said that he was protecting the weak-willed King from his own immoderation; others questioned the legitimacy of Don Enrique, the heir to the throne.

But the gossip troubled the King not at all, so long as he was spared the boredom of administration, and left free to indulge his passion for poetry and music, for with all his weaknesses he was a loyal patron of the fine arts. Mariana describes him as a tall man, very fair, with massive shoulders and disagreeable features; soft of voice and short of speech; devoted to the chase and the tilting-yard, and little else besides.

When Queen Leonor was driven out of Portugal by her brother-in-law, the regent, Don Pedro, she visited her sister, the Queen of Castile; and de Luna, who was friendly to Don Pedro, resented her presence as a threat to his own supremacy. Queen Maria died, after an illness of only three days. There were strange spots on her body, says the chronicler, “like those caused by herbs.” Her sister died of the same mysterious ailment. The enemies of Don Alvaro had their opinion.

TBC...

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Javier
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Message  Javier Dim 10 Fév 2019, 5:19 am

The King, who was disappointed in his son Enrique, thought of marrying again. His choice fell upon Fredagonde, daughter of Charles VII of France. But Don Alvaro had other plans for him. He had already, in fact, arranged for his master’s marriage to the young Princess Isabel, first cousin of King Alfonso V of Portugal and niece of the Regent Don Pedro. The Constable feared the effect of a French alliance on his own position. On the other hand, his friend Don Pedro would know how to influence his young and inexperienced niece in the right direction, and Don Alvaro flattered himself that she would become a pliant instrument in his hands for the domination of the King. Women had always found him irresistible.

In the year 1447, consequently, there came to Burgos a slender princess from the west, whose face was rather melancholy in repose, though it became singularly beautiful, like the glass of some Gothic window, when the light of any emotion shone through it. She was the daughter of the Infante Don Juan, a younger son of Juan the Great of Portugal; her grandmother was Philippa, one of the daughters of John of Gaunt. Her welcoming was magnificent even for a country with a weakness for royal brides. There were dances, banquets, speeches, bull-fights, tourneys, glittering processions. Don Alvaro had arranged everything.

But Isabel had grown up in the court of a strong monarch, and had very definite notions of what a King should be. Her husband the slave of a haughty subject? Intolerable! That any one should attempt to regulate her domestic routine was not even to be thought of. And when Don Alvaro bowed over her hand with his most disarming smile, she read his heart; and, feeling that this man with the soft voice and the touch that made one think of a dark snake, would destroy her, body and soul, unless she destroyed him, she decided without hesitation that he must be destroyed.

To the further annoyance of the Constable, King Juan fell in love with his young wife. Assured by a fortune-teller that he would live to be ninety, and finding himself still handsome and charming in his forties, he gave himself up to love and to gluttony, without consulting Don Alvaro as to his comings and goings. The Queen began to feel for him the affection that weak and likable men often inspire in strong-minded women. Pious, energetic, and incapable of compromise where any principle was involved, she threw her influence on the side of the nobles who were constantly plotting for the downfall of the favourite even after he crushed them at the first battle of Olmedo. The suspicion that de Luna had attempted to poison her at the time of the Infanta Isabel’s birth urged her on to hasten his fall. Three years after the birth of the Princess Isabel, she brought forth her son, Alfonso, and,while he was still in the womb, she accomplished her desire.

The murder of Don Alfonso Perez de Vivero gave her the opportunity she sought. He was the King’s messenger, but Don Alvaro, angered because he had forsaken his party for the Queen’s, had him thrown out of a window on Good Friday afternoon, in 1453. This conduct agreed so well with the popular impression that the Constable was a Catholic in name only, and a dabbler in black magic, that the indignation against him was extreme. The Queen made use of it to complete her ascendancy over the King. She induced him to have Don Alvaro seized and taken to Valladolid, where a council of his enemies was waiting to pass judgment upon him. At the crucial moment, some of the Conversos whom he had raised to power joined the party of the Queen. Their ingratitude was decisive. 1

De Luna was as unruffled and confident in misfortune as he had been in power. He knew that, if he could talk with the King for five minutes, his personal charm would gain a pardon. It had on other occasions. No one knew better than he how difficult it was for Don Juan to punish any one; in fact, de Luna had once advised him never to speak with any man whom he had condemned. The Queen reminded her husband of that excellent counsel when he thought of receiving the Constable in audience. Seconded by those who feared the vengeance of Don Alvaro if he returned to power, she adjured him, in the name of Castile, of their love, of their children, of the God so long defied by de Luna, to prove himself a true King by administering strict justice. Twice during the trial, Juan is said to have signed an order for the release of his friend, and to have been shamed out of sending it by the Queen, who remained at his side night and day. When he ratified the sentence of the Court, his tears fell upon the paper.

Meanwhile in Valladolid, that drab city, preparations for the execution had been completed with almost indecent haste, and at 8 o’clock on the morning of June 2 a crowd was gathering in the Plaza Major before a huge scaffold covered with black velvet, surmounted by a crucifix and a block. Against this sable background, thumbing the edge of the great sword of the Kings of Castile, stood the tall figure of an executioner, masked, silent, wrapped in robes of scarlet. The Plaza was almost filled with peasants, cattle-herders, gaily dressed hidalgos who had ridden from far places to see their master’s undoing. A trumpet sounded, and down the principal street came a little procession to the sound of muffled kettle-drums: first, a particoloured herald with gaudy cap and tabard, proclaiming in a loud voice the high crimes of Don Alvaro de Luna; next, two ranks of men-at-arms in leather jerkins and cuirasses; and finally, mounted on a mule, the imperturbable Grand Master, wearing high-heeled shoes with diamond buckles, and muffled to the chin in a long Castilian cloak, while his confessor rode beside him.

TBC...

ISABELLA OF SPAIN (ISABEL LA CATÓLICA) 23915810
Javier
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Message  Javier Lun 11 Fév 2019, 6:51 am

The condemned dismounted, gazed serenely about at the brilliant assembly of his foes and the idly curious, smiled as if to say that one could expect no more from human nature, and with a firm step went up to meet the man in scarlet. Never had he looked more noble and gracious than when he raised his fine head and gazed thoughtfully out of his dark eyes over the heads of the people. A murmur of admiration and pity rippled through the crowd; whereat Don Alvaro placed his hand over his heart and bowed to them with grave gallantry. After another word with his confessor, he loosened the tasselled cord at his neck and handed his cloak to his page Morales, revealing on his breast the sword and cockleshell of Santiago, emblems of the great Crusade that he had sacrificed to avarice and ambition. He handed the page his hat; a ring, as a keepsake. If he glanced down the narrow street to see whether the King’s messenger was coming, if he began to doubt the promises of his astrologers, he betrayed no uneasiness when he turned again to the spectators and in a resonant voice wished happiness and prosperity to the King and people of Castile. The sunlight sparkled on his coal-black hair, on the jewels at his feet and his waist, on the newly ground steel of the sword of justice. Don Alvaro casually examined the block and the sword, took from his bosom a black ribbon, handed it to the executioner for the binding of his hands. This done, he knelt before the crucifix and prayed with fervour. A silence like the dying of the wind in a field of wheat fell over the murmuring crowd. The Grand Master was placing his head on the block. The man in red made a panther-like movement. There was a flash of steel. Cries and shrieks burst from the Plaza. The head rolled in the dust. Castile! Castile for the King Don Juan and his wife Lady Isabel!

It was the young Queen’s hour of victory, but the chalice of her triumph was bitter. For the King suffered the remorse of the imaginative, and all the rest of his miserable days passed in self-reproaches for the doom of his friend. Even the birth of his son Alfonso, November 15, 1454, left him unconsoled. He died the following July, after a reign of forty-eight indolent years, moaning, “Would to God I had been born the son of a mechanic instead of the son of a King!” He had encouraged art and literature, he had given power and privileges to the Jews, he was father to a princess in whom his intellect and her mother’s will compounded to form greatness. History has remembered little more of him. His magnificent tomb is in the Cartuja de Miraflores, two miles from Burgos.

After his funeral and the coronation of the new King Enrique IV, the Queen withdrew from the court with her two children, and made her residence in the small castle of Arevalo, in Old Castile. Alfonso was an infant in the cradle. The Infanta Isabel was a self-possessed fair little girl of three years, with wide shoulders and sturdy legs, who regarded the world frankly and analytically through large blue eyes in which there were tiny streaks and specks of gold and green.

The melancholy that had fallen upon the Queen when Isabel was born became habitual. After the King’s death she was seldom free from illness, never from anxiety. Her allowance from her stepson Enrique, who had never liked her much, came so irregularly that the little family was sometimes reduced to the bare necessaries, almost to actual want. But, as all other resources failed her, the pious Queen turned more than ever to the solace of religion, and spent what remained of her superb will in the service of her children. Isabel remembered her lying in bed, ill; in white mourning garments, weeping for the King; in the chapel, kneeling in reverence before the uplifted Host.

TBC...

ISABELLA OF SPAIN (ISABEL LA CATÓLICA) 23915810
Javier
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Message  Javier Lun 11 Fév 2019, 6:57 am

The child remembered something vague but terrifying about the execution of Alvaro de Luna, for it was much talked about, and sung about in popular ballads. She recalled being told at the age of six that King Enrique was arranging for her marriage to Prince Fernando, the five-year-old second son of the King of Aragon. Fernando! The name was like a bell chiming in a far country of romance. It was odd: to be the betrothed of a Prince that one had never seen.

At Arévalo Isabel formed her first friendship, one that lasted until the day of her death. Beatriz de Bobadilla was a child of her own age, daughter of the governor of the castle. Beatriz was dark and emotional, while Isabel was fair, reserved and strangely mature. They became inseparable. They played games together in the enclosed garden of the Alcázar, they learned to read by the bedside of the Queen, they approached the altar in the chapel together to receive their first Holy Communion. Sometimes they rode with the governor and his troops through the little walled town into the flat chequered country, where fields of wheat and saffron extended one after another as far as one could see—the wheat almost the colour of Isabel’s hair, and the saffron very fragrant on the wind. Cows and horses grazed in the pastures along the meandering Araja. Beyond the green places lay a flat desert, stark and treeless and full of unknown things to be feared. The lights and shadows alternated on this level plateau in broad undulating bars, like the waves of a great dark sea.

Sometimes they rode as far as Medina del Campo, where the greatest fair in Spain was held three times a year, and merchants came from all over southern Europe to buy choice Castilian wools and grains, and blood steers and horses and mules from Andalusia. There were cavaliers from Aragon, sailors from Catalonia on the east coast, mountaineers from Guipúzcoa on the north, turbaned Moors from Granada in the south, blue-eyed Castilian farmers, bearded Jews in gaberdines, peasants from Provence and Languedoc, sometimes even an Englishman or a German. The people interested her, but not so much as the horses. Before Isabel was ten she scorned the mule that etiquette ordained for women and children, and kept her seat on a spirited horse. Days in the saddle made her hard, straight, resourceful, fearless, indifferent to fatigue, contemptuous of pain: a vigorous girl with delicate pink complexion, a firm prudent mouth, a lower jaw a trifle heavy, indicating unusual energy and will. She became a skilled huntress, commencing with hares and deer, but later following the black wild boar, and on one occasion slaying a good-sized bear with her javelin. Her brother Alfonso learned also to handle a sword and to tilt with the lance.

Isabel grew up without a knowledge of Latin, but her education in other respects was sound and well balanced. She learned to speak Castilian musically and with elegance, and to write it with a touch of distinction. She studied grammar and rhetoric, painting, poetry, history and philosophy. She embroidered intricate Moorish designs on velours and cloth of gold, and illuminated prayers in Gothic characters on leaves of parchment. A missal that she painted, and some banners and ornaments for the altar in her chapel, are in the Cathedral at Granada. She had inherited a love for music and poetry. She read her father’s favourite poet, Juan de Mena, and probably a Spanish translation of Dante. Her tutors, having studied at Salamanca University, must have given her at second hand the philosophy of Aristotle on which Saint Thomas Aquinas had built the great synthesis that was the foundation of medieval teaching.

TBC...

ISABELLA OF SPAIN (ISABEL LA CATÓLICA) 23915810
Javier
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Message  Javier Mar 12 Fév 2019, 9:09 am

Some notion of how science was taught at the period may
be had from a philosophical and allegorical novel called
the Vision deleytable, written by the Bachelor de la Torre about
1461 for the instruction of Prince Charles of Viana, Isabel’s
second fiancé. "I perceive that motion is the cause of heat,”
says the young hero; and he goes on to discuss why there are
perpendicular lines on the sun, what makes the wind blow,
why climates differ, why materials are different, what
causes the sensations of smell, taste, hearing, why some
plants are large and others small, the properties of medicines—and
all this sugar-coated in the form of a novel!
The tragedies of Seneca were known in Spain. One of the
first books published after the introduction of printing in
Isabel’s reign was a translation of Plutarch’s Lives by Alonso
de Palencia 2; another by the same hand was Josephus’s
History. Spanish versions of the Odyssey and the Aeneid were
popular in the court of Isabel’s brother. Books of medicine
and surgery and anatomical charts were fairly common in a
country where the Jews had long excelled in the healing art.
From singing the Cancioneros that had been so dear to her
father, Isabel evoked from the past the heroic story of her
crusading ancestors; and from the chronicles of her own
time, there unrolled before her keen intelligence and strong
imagination a picture of the fascinating and terrifying world
into which she had been born.

She was a King’s daughter and the half-sister of a King,
and there were certain inevitable questions that she must
have asked her mother. What manner of man was Don
Enrique IV, and what was he doing to bring back the
glories of Saint Fernando and Alfonso the Wise, and heal
the scars that the gemmed boots of Don Alvaro had left
upon the face of a Castile weary of wars and feuds?

His Majesty occasionally rode to Arévalo to visit his relatives.
Isabel remembered his coming there one day with
two cavaliers, the Marqués of Villena and his brother Don
Pedro Giron. These gentlemen, she learned afterwards from
her mother, were the King’s closest companions, his criados,
who advised him in everything and who therefore were the
two most powerful persons in the realm. Perhaps that was
why they cut a more magnificent figure than King Enrique
himself. They wore fine silks, bordered with cloth of gold,
large and brilliant jewels, heavy gold chains cunningly
wrought by smiths in Córdoba. The King looked shabby
beside them. Loose-jointed, tall and awkward, he wore his
long woollen cloak in a slovenly way, and, instead of the
boots that Castilian cavaliers wore, had his small delicate
feet shod in buskins, like those of the Moors, with mud on
them, so that they looked all the more peculiar on the ends
of his long legs. But his face puzzled the little princess even
more than his queer clothes and his familiar way of speaking
to the servants. His skin was very white and rather puffy. His
eyes were blue, somewhat too large, and somehow different
from the eyes of other people. His nose was wide, flat and
decidedly crooked, the result, it was said, of a fall he had as a
boy. At the top of that prominent organ were two vertical
furrows into which the bushy royal eyebrows curled up in a
most peculiar manner. His beard was shaggy, with auburn
streaks in it, and stuck out so oddly and abruptly that it
made his face in profile look concave. But it was the eyes
that one kept looking at and wondering about. There was
a strange look of grievance and bewilderment in them, an
inquietude that vaguely disturbed one. What did they
remind her of? His chaplain, who wrote a eulogy of him
after his death, recorded that Enrique’s “aspect was fierce,
like that of a lion that by its very look strikes terror to all
beholders.”
3 But it did not remind the chronicler Palencia
of a lion at all. It reminded him of one of those monkeys that
Isabel had seen in a wooden cage at the fair at Medina del
Campo. His eyes glittered and roved about and looked
ashamed, just like a monkey’s. 4

TBC...

ISABELLA OF SPAIN (ISABEL LA CATÓLICA) 23915810
Javier
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Message  Javier Mer 13 Fév 2019, 6:50 am

His Majesty talked of one thing and another, sometimes
turning for confirmation of what he said to the Marqués of
Villena, who nodded or put in a suave word in his slow
drawl. This gentleman, had he had the good or evil fortune
to be born later, would have been called a self-made man;
for in the time of King Juan he was one Juan Pacheco, a
page introduced at court by Don Alvaro de Luna. Though a
professing Christian, he was one of many with Jewish blood
in their veins who owed their prosperity to the great Constable;
on both sides he was descended from the Jew Ruy
Capon. 5 But, with other Conversos of the court, he had
requited his benefactor by helping to overthrow him. Prince
Enrique, whose elevation was thus hastened, rewarded
Pacheco by making him Marqués of Villena and his intimate
companion and adviser.

Of the three men, the Marqués was the most likable,
because there was a twinkle in his shrewd eyes, and his
beard and moustache were positively fascinating, so ingeniously
had they been curled. Besides, he smelled delightfully
of ambergris. He had a long aquiline nose, quite hooked
in the middle and pointed at the tip; and, somewhat too
near the base of it, a narrow mouth with full lips, giving a
curiously cherubic expression to the whole face. On either
side of the mouth a carefully waxed and twisted moustache
drooped somewhat dejectedly for a short distance, and then
of a sudden turned out and up into two jaunty and devilmay-care
points. The Marqués could be charming when
he wanted to be, and on this particular occasion he made
himself most agreeable.

His brother, Don Pedro Giron, was also of that numerous
class of Castilians known as Conversos, or New Christians.
He must have made at least some pretence of being a
Catholic, else he could hardly have attained to the Grand
Mastership of the illustrious military Order of Calatrava,
founded by two Cistercian monks and consecrated to the rule
of St. Benedict. He was a sleek, well-fed man, probably a
sensual and passionate man. He hardly glanced at the
Queen, but his eyes returned from time to time to gloat
upon the fair fresh beauty of the young princess, and his
look was one of those under which a woman has almost the
sensation of being forcibly disrobed.

After the King and the two cavaliers had gone, Isabel
found her mother weeping in her apartment. She may have
divined that the royal visit in some way concerned her, but
she was too young to be told of the outrageous proposal that
Don Pedro had made on another occasion to the Queen,
and at the instigation—so he said—of King Enrique himself. 6


TBC...

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Javier
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Message  Javier Jeu 14 Fév 2019, 5:35 am

II

ENRIQUE IV SENDS FOR THE INFANTA—ISABEL’S LIFE AT COURT—THE WHITE KNIGHT


Enrique the liberal he was called on his accession in 1454, and liberal he was in more than one sense of the word. There was a certain grandeur in his contempt for all practical and mercenary considerations. A favourite had only to ask him for money or land belonging to the Crown, and he complied graciously. He ordered castles, monuments and monasteries to be built wherever and whenever the fancy seized him. He signed schedules and important state papers without even reading them. He gave his friends orders on the exchequer, leaving the sum blank for the beneficiaries to fill in to suit themselves; and, when a conscientious treasurer objected, Enrique silenced him with one of his royal aphorisms: “Instead of accumulating treasures like private persons, a king ought to spend them for the welfare of his subjects. I give to my enemies to make them my friends, and give to my friends to keep them from becoming my enemies.” It was simple, very simple. And it must be said for him that he was as generous with the property of others as he was with his own. Having acquired the vast Castilian estates of King Juan of Aragon as security for a loan, he gave most of them to his friend Pacheco. The Marqués smiled more cherubically than ever, but there were several other needy deservers who thought the King’s generosity had been misplaced. However, a king with such a philosophy was sure to have friends as long as his funds held out.

Enrique the Liberal was far from orthodox in his opinions and conduct. His chosen companions were Moors, Jews and Christian renegades; indeed, any man who ridiculed the Christian religion was sure of at least a smile from his Majesty, if not a pension. One of the favourite daily pastimes at the King’s table was the invention of new and original blasphemies; obscene jokes were made about the Blessed Virgin and the Saints. The King attended Mass, but never confessed or received Communion. If his laxity pleased the enemies of the Church, it offended the mass of the people, who were predominantly Catholic. A petition addressed to Enrique a few years later by the chief Christian nobles and prelates said: “It is especially notorious that there are in your Court and in your palace and about your person individuals who are infidels, enemies of our holy Catholic faith, and others, Christians in name only, but of very questionable faith, particularly those who believe and say and affirm that there is no other world but to be bom and to die like beasts; and there are continually blasphemous people and renegades . . . whom your Lordship has exalted to high honours and dignities in your realms.”

The Moorish guard which Enrique had constantly with him, and which he paid more generously than his Christian troops, did not tend to increase his popularity in a country where Christians had been slowly winning back their lands from the Moors during seven centuries of almost continuous warfare, and where a new Moorish conquest was always a possibility to be feared—indeed, Mohammed the Little had ravaged the vega, the fruitful plain of Christian Andalusia, in 1455, the second year of Enrique’s reign. Small wonder that in a crusading country muffled curses followed the King when he rode by at the head of his Saracen retainers.

TBC...

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Javier
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Message  Javier Ven 15 Fév 2019, 4:36 am

Not that Enrique was at all warlike; on the contrary, he was decidedly a pacifist. He never wearied of protesting that bloodshed was abhorrent to him. Out of this, perhaps, grew another trait in which he was considerably ahead of, or behind, his time: a sympathy, amounting almost to affection, for criminals. It gave him such acute pain to order the execution of a thief or a murderer that he generally avoided it. In fact, his tolerance for the enemies of society was so well known that a drunken highwayman named Barrasa went boldly to tell him how he and another footpad, known as Alonso the Horrible, had assassinated a wayfarer and, to prevent his identification, had peeled the skin off his face. The King, delighted with their ingenuity, made Barrasa his equerry. Similarly, when the renegade Bartolomé del Marmol, after joining other apostate Christians in a series of atrocities, including the murder and mutilation of forty Christians, attempted to return to the town where he was born, the people armed themselves and chased him into the wilderness; but King Enrique welcomed him, and gave him a post in the Moorish Guard.

Unfortunately, the King appeared to have but little affection left for the non-criminal classes. He had three respectable artisans hanged in Seville merely because in a peevish moment he had given his word he would do so. He appointed officials who used their offices to tyrannize over the people and make themselves rich. He “farmed out” the privilege of collecting taxes to the wealthy Rabbi Jusef of Segovia, whose great influence in the King’s counsels was unpopular with the exploited masses, and to Diego Arias de Avila, a converted Jew, to whom he gave almost plenary powers, including the right to exile citizens, or put them to death without a hearing for non-payment of taxes; and with these powers, unprecedented in Castile, Enrique annulled the rights of appeal and of asylum. To his excessive laxity on one hand and excessive severity on the other there could be only one ending: a state of anarchy. The nobles, both those who were sure of the King’s protection and those who were learning to despise his authority, began to consider
themselves petty kings in their own jurisdictions; and when these had disputes with neighbours, they went to war. Others, as the value of Enrique’s debased currency depreciated, began to coin their own money. The robber barons and highwaymen preyed on the farmers, labourers and merchants, until many of the victims, unable to make an honest living, became criminals themselves. In Seville the King gave Xamardal, Rodrigo de Marchena and other bandits the privilege of taxing fish, beasts of burden, leather, and tasters of wine. There was hardly a corner in Castile where a man was safe from robbery and murder, hardly a road where a girl or a woman was safe from outrage and mutilation. Public and private morality had never been so low since Christianity came into the land.

The stench of the Court began to pervade the air of all Spain. Enrique alone seemed to be impervious to the strong odour; indeed, it was a curious fact that his sense of smell, like some of his other instincts, differed—literally, not figuratively—from those of other men. The odour of decay pleased him; he found horses’ skulls and burning leather delightful. He disliked sunlight, and broad and clean horizons, preferring the gloom and obscurity of the forests around Madrid, where he loved to chase wild animals with Moors, rustics and criminals. Such were some of the reports that sifted through the gossips of the Court to every hamlet on the peninsula, and ultimately to every capital in Europe. And among the most scandalous were those concerning the King’s two marriages.

TBC...

ISABELLA OF SPAIN (ISABEL LA CATÓLICA) 23915810
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Message  Javier Sam 16 Fév 2019, 4:57 am

Precociously familiar with all vices and described by his tutor, Fray Lupe de Barrientos, as a youth “born for the ruin of the throne and the reproach of nations," Enrique at the age of fourteen wedded Blanche, the gentle daughter of King Juan of Aragon. After several childless years, he had the marriage annulled in 1446 by the Bishop of Segovia, on the ground of impotence. From that time on, the King was known as Enrique El Impotente.

When he succeeded his father in 1454, he needed an heir, and the Marqués of Villena, virtual ruler of the kingdom, volunteered to select a suitable mate for him. Villena, who “could disguise all vices but his avarice, which he could neither hide nor moderate”, 1 lived in constant fear of losing the rich Castilian possessions of Juan of Aragon. To forestall another match with the House of Aragon, or any alliance that might indirectly touch his interests, he chose for Enrique’s second wife the lovely Princess Juana, sister of King Alfonso V of Portugal, a witty vivacious girl of fifteen. Enrique offered a rich dowry and asked none. A Jewish physician, the confidential emissary of Enrique, conducted the negotiations at the Court of Lisbon. Alfonso, not at all sorry to extend his influence in Castile, persuaded his sister to accept, though she must have known her suitor’s reputation, for by this time ballads about him were being sung in the streets in Spain and Portugal. Perhaps her vanity made her imagine that being a queen was worth any price. At any rate, she accepted. Thus for the second time a woman came from Portugal to change the history of Castile.

Juana arrived at Badajoz in 1455 with twelve pretty maids of honour and a long retinue of cavaliers. At the border they were met by the young blades of the Castilian Court, who conducted them in triumph to Córdoba, where the Archbishop of Tours performed the marriage. Never were so many brilliant banquets, receptions, processions, bull-fights, feasts and jousts held in honour of any Princess in Castile, never had the Court been so captivated as it was by the dark beauty, the fresh charm and the tireless gaiety of this young Queen. She danced so divinely that the French ambassador made a vow never to dance with any other woman. At one of the banquets the servants of the Archbishop of Seville passed around salvers full of choice rings and precious stones, that Doña Juana and her ladies might choose such as agreed with their complexions.

Whatever may have been the motive of Juana in consenting to marry the mere wreckage of a man, she could hardly have been prepared for the pain and humiliation of the next few months. Her husband desired an heir and, according to Palencia, he demanded that the Queen should have a child by one of his intimates. 2 Juana’s instincts being sound, she refused.

Enrique attempted to punish her. He neglected her, he gave her no money, he made her virtually a prisoner, he snubbed her in public. Juana still resisted. The King then sought, and in this he may have been advised by that smiling Marrano with the perfumed beard, the Marqués, to arouse her jealousy by paying court to one of her ladies-in-waiting, Doña Guiomar de Castro. With principles more elastic than those of her royal mistress, Guiomar made the most of her elevation, even to the extent of patronizing the Queen in the presence of the Court. That was more than Portuguese pride could endure. Juana’s fan, smartly slapped across Guiomar’s face, left white marks that on the next day were red. Immediately two factions were formed, the party of Her Majesty, and the party of the Lady Guiomar. The Queen in great anguish wrote to her royal brother all she had suffered, but it does not appear that Alfonso V allowed any solicitude for her honour to come between him and his Castilian policy. However, the Marqués of Villena let it be known that he was a partisan of the Queen. At his insistence Enrique packed Lady Guiomar off to the country, with the gift of a beautiful estate.

TBC...

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Message  Javier Dim 17 Fév 2019, 5:53 am

Enrique was becoming the jest of the peninsula. Having got out of him all they could, Doña Guiomar and several others amused their friends with anecdotes of which he was the hero. The gossips next began to look with more care into Enrique’s relations with various men and boys, and their conclusions were reflected in a scurrilous passage of the Coplas de Mingo Revulgo.

Enrique in self-defence posed as the lover of the corrupt Catalina de Sandoval. He even pretended to be jealous of her lover and had him beheaded. But the scandal was already well known; and a storm was rising. The chief opposition came from the Catholic nobles and those of the clergy who were not Enrique's creatures. At Toledo Cathedral the Dean, Don Francisco de Toledo, denounced him from the pulpit. Don Alfonso Carrillo, Archbishop of Toledo and primate of Spain, reproved the King first in private and then in public for his evil life and the scandals of his Court and government. Enrique’s reply to the Archbishop was to attack the ecclesiastical immunities, to ridicule Church documents and ceremonies and to curtail Carrillo’s jurisdiction. In the past this method had been known to silence the criticisms of a certain type of churchman. But in Carrillo Enrique had a different kind of man to deal with ; one whom his worst enemies, and he had many, had never accused of lack of courage; and the Archbishop now returned to the attack with all the thunderous gravity and majesty for which he was noted.

It was Enrique’s move. It amused him to find that he could kill two birds with one stone. He had grown tired of his affair with the Countess de Sandoval, and was looking for some pretext to get rid of her. The happy thought occurred to him that he might at the same time annoy the Archbishop of Toledo. With a stroke of his pen he removed from office the pious and efficient abbess of the convent of San Pedro de las Dueñas in Toledo, and bestowed the office on the Countess. The convent, he explained, needed to be reformed! Catalina proceeded to reform the community by destroying its discipline and teaching the young nuns the vices she had made notorious in the palace.

The cynics of the King’s table found it all very diverting. The Court wag, Don Gonzalo de Guzman, said in a company of nobles, “There are three things that I will not lower myself to take up: the pompous drawl of the Marqués of Villena, the gravity of the Archbishop of Toledo, and the virility of Don Enrique.” Others, who had the interests of the Church and the State at heart, saw no humour in the situation. One of these was the Archbishop himself. Another was Don Fadrique Enriquez, the Admiral of Castile.

Don Fadrique, a diminutive 3 but very forceful and important gentleman, one of the great land-owners of Castile, had lately increased his prestige by marrying his daughter Juana to King Juan of Aragon. He now began conspiring with other powerful nobles against the hated Marqués and the despised King. With this revolutionary Junta the Archbishop of Toledo allied himself.

TBC...

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Message  Javier Lun 18 Fév 2019, 10:49 am

Enrique saw that he had gone too far. His natural impulse would have been to make his peace with the conspirators; but the Marqués of Villena, fearing the influence of the Admiral and the Archbishop, suggested another alternative more profitable to him and more flattering to the King. Why not divert the public gaze from these petty domestic difficulties by a glorious crusade against the Moors? Nothing was more likely to arouse the national, the racial and the religious emotions of the Castilians. Their ancestors had won back the soil foot by foot from the Infidel; even now from the south came daily stories of Moorish raids into Christian territory, of cattle driven off, of men killed and women ravished. Enrique had long been detested for his partiality for these enemies of the commonwealth, and particularly for his rebuke to the Duke of Medina Sidonia for taking Gibraltar from the Arabs. Here was his opportunity to regain the public esteem and at the same time to divide or win over the conspirators. The Archbishop of Toledo could hardly refuse to support a popular war that he himself had long advocated. Enrique may have found the idea amusing. He appointed as regents in his absence the Archbishop of Toledo and Count Haro, a Christian gentleman of character and ability. A bull of crusade was obtained from Pope Pius II, indulgences were offered under the usual conditions, a fund of 4,000,000 maravedís was raised for expenses, and 30,000 troops assembled at Córdoba in 1557.

History does not record a more pusillanimous crusade than this. Enrique led his eager host through Andalusia, crossed the Sierra Nevada, and invaded the wide blossoming vega surrounding Granada. But it soon became plain that his purpose was not war, but a holiday. He marched up to fortified towns and marched away again without a blow. Some of his cavaliers having been killed in skirmishes with straggling Moors, he forbade skirmishes in future. When some young soldiers set fire to wheat-fields and cut down fruit trees, as was customary in these wars, he whipped them with his own hand, and had their ears cut off. It was a sin, said he, to destroy food. The Moors seemed to attach no great importance to the crusade, for they never came out in force from their walled towns to offer battle; and the suspicion grew in the Christian army that Enrique had assured them they had nothing to fear. From time to time he met groups of them secretly, sat on the ground with them, and, to the great scandal of the chronicler who reports it, ate their honey, raisins, figs and butter without the slightest dread of being poisoned. A king who was a true crusader could hardly have taken that risk. It was his daily custom, too, to retire to an orchard and solace himself with Moorish music. Like the Moors, he rode a la jineta as no other Castilian king had ever done. There is even some evidence that the Moors believed Enrique to be in sympathy with their sect.

Betrayed, as they thought, by their king, the cavaliers of Castile left the orange-groves and nightingales of the south without fighting a battle. The chief damage was done to the farms of the Christians of Andalusia. Almost the only shots of the crusade were fired by Queen Juana, who, riding into camp with nine other dizzily attired damsels, sped two arrows against the Moorish walls of Cambril.

TBC...

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Message  Javier Mar 19 Fév 2019, 10:29 am

The Archbishop of Toledo, dourly administering the public business from Valladolid, learned of the issue of the “war” with a disgust intensified by the realization that he had been tricked. To make matters worse, he discovered that the King had given 80,000 florins of the money the Pope had authorized him to collect for a crusade to Don Beltran de la Cueva, one of his intimates. After a public protest in which he was joined by Don Pedro Gonzalez de Mendoza, Carrillo made open cause with Don Fadrique the Admiral and other lords returning in anger and shame from Granada. The King came back, therefore, to find the conspiracy he had hoped to destroy merely postponed. In fact the Marqués, who was always well informed by his brother Don Pedro Giron and various spies, was not long in perceiving that the country was in a pretty muddle indeed; for Don Fadrique was in communication with his son-in-law the King of Aragon, the last person in the world that Villena wished to see drawn into the affairs of Castile.

After a little reflection the Marqués had one of those happy inspirations that occur to statesmen. Casting about for help against Juan of Aragon, he naturally bethought him of that monarch’s enemies. As luck would have it, the King of Aragon had fallen out, since his second marriage, with his son Carlos of Viana, in whom the stepmotherly jealousy of Juana Enriquez saw only an obstacle. With Carlos, then, Pacheco arranged an alliance, sealed by the promise of the hand of the Princess Isabel.

The Queen of Aragon had no intention of enduring such a slight. She was a woman to whom power was necessary and inevitable, and the birth of a son, Fernando, in 1452, had given her an additional motive for dispossessing Carlos. It was she who had arranged the betrothal of Fernando and Isabel in 1457, but her husband’s understanding with the Castilian rebels had put a damper on that for the time being, and now Villena’s arrangement with Carlos threatened definitely to end her hopes. Her ascendancy over the ageing King of Aragon was such, however, that she induced him to have Carlos seized and cast into prison.

Carlos, a scholar of forty, thin, sad, kindly and tuberculous, was much loved in Catalonia, and when the Catalans learned of his arrest they rebelled and forced King Juan to release him. Father and son had an affectionate meeting and signed a treaty. Carlos entered Barcelona in triumph. But presently he died after a short illness. The Catalans openly declared that agents of his father and stepmother had poisoned him. The suspicion was probably unjust.

Carlos had two sisters. One of them was Blanche, the former wife of Enrique IV of Castile, and to her he left his title to the Kingdom of Navarre. The other was Eleanor, Countess of Foix, a jealous and unscrupulous woman. Having betrothed her son Gaston to a sister of Louis XI, she now obtained the aid of the Spider King in removing poor Blanche from the scene of action. This was done by shutting her up in a convent at Orthez with the connivance of her father, Juan of Aragon. There Blanche died, poisoned by her sister. The murderess lived only three weeks to enjoy the fruits of her crime.

TBC...

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Message  Javier Mer 20 Fév 2019, 6:34 am

As all three of the children of the King of Aragon by his first marriage were dead, the little Fernando now had a clear field, and his mother renewed her efforts to ally him to the royal house of Castile. But at this moment the Catalans, who hated her furiously, again revolted, and pursuing her to Gerona, fifty miles from Barcelona, besieged her and the ten-year-old Prince Fernando in a tower. She coolly directed the defence for several days. But the rebellion had grown so
alarmingly that the old King was unable to go to her rescue. He obtained 700 French lances, with archers and artillery, however, from Louis XI, together with a loan of 200,000 crowns, for which he pledged, as security, the two valuable provinces of Roussillon and Cerdagne. Louis hoped that the loan would never be paid. To that worthy end he did his best to keep Juan in trouble.

Meanwhile Enrique IV had ignored the dying appeal of Blanche, or rather, answered it by coming to terms with her father and her other enemies. The situation in Castile had changed somewhat. The conspirators, discouraged by the unexpected entanglements in which their ally, Juan of Aragon, had become involved, had given up their schemes for the time being. Enrique, therefore, had no further need of help from Navarre. Besides, his personal affairs had unexpectedly taken a favourable turn.

Juana his wife had given up the struggle for her soul.
Precisely at what point, or why, or how she struck her
colours—whether Enrique’s cruelties and importunities
wore down her patience, or whether the temptations of
the lewd Court were too strong for her rather voluptuous
nature, or whether in her loneliness and despair at being
forsaken by her brother she threw herself into the arms of
some attractive and sympathetic male—the details have not
come down to us: onlv the fact of her fall and its effect on
the destiny of nations.

About this time a new character appears in the royal drama. The peerless knight-at-arms, Sir Beltran de la Cueva, began to display himself in the company of both their Majesties, and the three were seen everywhere together. Don Beltran was tall, robust, and florid of countenance; expert with sword and lance, and always ready to quarrel for a delicate point of honour. The King, it was observed, had seldom been more pleased with any of his favourites; he seemed quite infatuated with him, so that he bore it meekly when Beltran flew into paroxysms of rage against him, permitting him to act as if he were lord of the palace, and to knock down the porters and kick them if doors were not opened quickly enough. The nobles fervently detested Beltran for his arrogance and insolence; and it goes without saying that the Marqués of Villena saw no virtue in him at all. Others of the King’s cronies praised him, and commonly greeted one another with “Have you heard Don Beltran’s newest blasphemy?"

TBC...

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Message  Javier Ven 22 Fév 2019, 7:54 am

One day as their Majesties were approaching Madrid after entertaining the Count of Armagnac with three days’ hunting in the country, they found their road barred by a knight in silvered armour, with trappings of gold on his horse, who sat immovable and stately by an open field at a turn of the way, his lance couched as if for combat. The royal cavalcade halted by the roadside while two officers spurred ahead to inquire who the mysterious cavalier might be, and why he impeded the King’s highway. Meanwhile their Majesties noticed some tiers of scaffolding that had been erected on the field and were filling with spectators. The officers returned to report that the knight errant was Don Beltran de la Cueva, who had been there since early morning challenging each knight that came by that road to tilt six rounds with him, or else to leave his left glove on the ground in token of his cowardice. Don Beltran did this to vindicate the superlative beauty of his mistress over all the other women in the world. Any knight who managed to break three lances with him had his permission to go to an archway there, which glittered with all the letters of the alphabet painted with gold, and take thence the initial of the lady of his choice. But so far none of the letters had been removed.

The Queen was enchanted at coming upon this adventure. The King, who had been in one of his cloudy moods, cried, “A passage of arms! Magnificent!” And all the rest of that day the royal party watched the encounters, which became frequent and furious as knight after knight went down before the invincible lance; and when the dusk came slowly over the brown vega, it was agreed by all, from His Majesty to the village yokels, that Don Beltran had nobly maintained the cause of his lady. Her name, for reasons of his own, he refrained from publishing. But he did not deny that she was of high degree.

The King was so diverted by that day’s sport that he commanded a monastery to be built on the spot where Beltran had withstood all comers; and the monastery of San Jeronimo del Paso, St. Jerome of the Passage of Arms, remains there still as a witness to the truth that good is sometimes brought about by strange instrumentalities.

Not long after this passage of arms it was bruited about the Court that Queen Juana, after seven childless years, had conceived at last. In the following March (1462) she gave birth at Madrid to a girl. The King’s joy was exuberant. He showered favours right and left. Don Beltran de la Cueva, as if in honour of the event, and as a reward for his many distinguished services, was made Count of Ledesma. The child was named after her mother, Juana; but every one called her La Beltraneja, that is to say, the daughter of Beltran. She was baptized with great pomp and magnificence by the Archbishop of Toledo. The new Count of Ledesma and all the court were present. The godfathers were the Marqués of Villena and the French ambassador. It was observed that the Marqués had lost something of his cherubic expression of late.

The godmother was the Infanta Isabel, now a grave, determined, very beautiful child of eleven, who had been brought from Arévalo on a mule surrounded by troopers. She made her responses in a cool musical voice that vibrated through the church, a voice that seemed intended to command and to be obeyed. The Marqués looked at her. He had almost forgotten her. Perhaps some use could be made of her one of these days.

Enrique next summoned the Cortes and requested the delegates of the seventeen cities to take the oath of allegiance to the Infanta Juana, as heir to the throne of Castile. The delegates, after some murmuring, complied. The first person to kiss the little Infanta’s hand was the Princess Isabel.

TBC...

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Message  Javier Dim 24 Fév 2019, 4:25 am

After this ceremony she returned to Arévalo. Her mother was not well. Isabel’s visit to the Court had disturbed her. Some friends had lately brought her the latest gossip about Enrique and Juana and their intimates. It made the Dowager ill even to think of such things. Youths in feasts and tourneys were displaying devices boasting of their desire for the Queen and Lady Guiomar. When the Marqués of Villena was ill, Enrique had gone to his house at dawn to divert him by singing and playing an accompaniment on the lute. There was a story about the youth Francisco de Valdes, who fled to Aragon to escape his attentions. As for the Moors of the royal guard, the scandals about them were too numerous and too vile to remember. One of them made the Dowager Isabel tremble with loathing and anger. To say nothing of their torpe liviandad contra las leyes de naturaleza, some of the dusky ruffians had violated several young women and girls; and when the outraged fathers went to King Enrique demanding vengeance, he informed them that they had evil minds, they were insane. He increased the wages of the Moors, and had the fathers whipped on the streets.

About the time that these horrors found echoes in sleepy Arévalo, there was a clatter of horsemen’s hoofs at the gate of the Alcázar; and one of Enrique’s officers brought the Dowager Queen a brief note from her stepson.

She was commanded to send the Infanta Isabel and the Infante Alfonso to the Court without delay, to take up their permanent residence there. Enrique added by way of explanation that they would be more virtuously brought up under his personal care.

Something broke in the Queen Dowager’s heart. The melancholy that she was subject to now became habitual, a mild but incurable form of insanity. Isabel and her brother sadly made their preparations, and sadly they took leave of their mother. Neither felt like talking as they rode, followed by squires and men-at-arms, along the King’s highway to Madrid.

TBC...

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Message  Javier Mar 26 Fév 2019, 2:39 pm

III
ISABEL A SUBJECT OF MATRIMONIAL INTRIGUES—
DON ALFONSO DECLARED KING OF CASTILE—
THE MEETING OF THE THREE KINGS


The massive gate of the old Moorish Alcázar at Madrid swung slowly open with a groan and a crunch. From within came the sound of female voices, young and shrill and shrieking with laughter, and the beating of many hoofs on a stone pavement. A dozen small mules in gold and crimson trappings came galloping through the gate, each bearing a damsel in a low-cut sleeveless gown, with skirts so short that, when the wind flapped them back, the bare thighs ol the riders were revealed; and the hucksters and beggars who had fled from the middle of the narrow street with hoarse cries and curses saw that the legs of all were painted with cosmetics, brilliantly white in the afternoon sunshine. The girl wore costumes of the most varied character. One had a saucy bonnet, another went bareheaded and let her short reddish hair stream in the wind; there was still another in a man’s hat cocked on one side, another with a Moorish turban of silken gauze woven with threads of gold, and yet another whose black hair was covered with a little kerchief in the Viscayan manner. One was girded about the breasts with leathern thongs taken from a crossbow, one had a dagger in her girdle, one carried a sword, several had knives of Vittoria hung around their necks. 1

These were the young women with whom Isabel was to live, sleep, eat and talk during the next two years, and it was in the apartment of one of them that Alfonso, at the age of nine, was to peer through the crack of a door a few months later and behold the peerless knight-at-arms, Don Beltran de la Gueva, tiptoeing by candlelight into the boudoir of her Serene Majesty. The life to which the two children from the austere castle of Arévalo were introduced so suddenly was a devil-may-care succession of balls, tourneys, pageants and comedies, bull-fights, intrigues and scandals. Each day there was a new blasphemy by Don Beltran, each day a new story of the Queen’s indiscretion, each day a new joke about the King’s virility. “The young women of the Court are very expert for their age in the art of seduction,” wrote Palencia. “The lasciviousness of their costumes arouses the young people, and their words are extremely audacious.” When they are not engaged in lovemaking, he adds, “they are indulging in sleep, or covering their bodies with cosmetics and perfumes. The desire which devours them night and day would astonish even the foolish virgins.”

In Castile, as in Italy, a cycle of civilization was ended, and the late Middle Ages were dying in a miasma of levity, cynicism, depravity. It was in this very year that a new King in Paris plucked one Master François Villon from the shadow of the gibbet. It was then that young Girolamo Savonarola began to thunder predictions of the destruction of Italy by an outraged God. Spain, too, had found evil as well as good in the cup of the Renaissance. Her condition was worse, in many respects, than that of Italy. The demoralization that usually follows war had been magnified and made chronic by eight centuries of almost continuous conflict, struggles between Christians and Mohammedans, between Castile and Portugal, between Castile and Aragon. Human life was very cheap. Contact with Moslems profoundly modified the influence of the Christian Church among the people: polygamy, for example, was not uncommon, though it usually took the form of open concubinage. And the Jews, although possessors of a far nobler moral code than the Mohammedans, acted everywhere as a powerful dissolvent, as will later appear, of the Christian faith which was the foundation of the morality of the people among whom they lived. Many of the clergy were depraved. And the Court was unspeakably foul. Isabel was disgusted by what she saw and heard there; but for the present her youth protected her.

TBC...

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Message  Javier Ven 01 Mar 2019, 4:22 pm

Enrique kept his promise to provide instruction for both children. Alfonso learned the accomplishments of a cavalier, studied with a tutor, and attempted to fulfil the obligation his mother had imposed of being Isabel’s knight and protector. He scowled at Juana’s damsels, he scowled at the Moorish guards.

The Princess was instructed in music, painting, poetry, sewing, grammar. She spent a long while every day in prayer, beseeching God to keep her and Alfonso safe and without sin, and she especially invoked the aid of the Blessed Virgin, of Saint John the Evangelist, and of Saint James the Apostle, the patron saint of Castile.

It was not until the Princess was about sixteen that Juana attempted to induce her to join the debaucheries of the Court. Isabel, in tears, fled to her brother.

Alfonso buckled on his sword and strode to the Queen’s apartment. The substance of his speech was that Her Majesty had spoken more like a harlot than a queen, and that he, Alfonso, Prince of Castile, forbade her to mention any further evil to his sister, Doña Isabel. Juana listened, amused and contemptuous, to her fourteen-year-old mentor and said nothing. From that day on she made no further attempt to corrupt the Princess.

Alfonso next made a visit to the ladies in waiting. He forbade them under pain of death to address his sister. They listened in silence, holding their laughter until he had gone, for, after all, one does not laugh at the brother of a King. However, they told the Queen, with much hilarity, what had passed.

Isabel and Alfonso did not escape so easily from the strong political currents of that Court. Although the birth of La Beltraneja had at first strengthened the King’s hand against the conspirators, the conviction was growing that she was not his daughter, and men all over Castile were saying that Alfonso ought to be acknowledged as heir to the throne. Many who had merely grumbled at the greed and dishonesty of the Marqués were ready to take arms against the swaggering and blasphemous Don Beltran; and the Archbishop at a meeting of nobles denounced him for infamous crimes.

TBC...

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Message  Javier Dim 03 Mar 2019, 4:49 am

The conspirators detested the Queen’s lover so wholeheartedly that they began to find some excellence even in the Marqués. The Archbishop, who was Pacheco’s uncle, had never had any serious grievance against him. The Admiral and others, much as they hated him, were willing to make a truce with him until they had given the coup de grâce to the Count of Ledesma. Villena wavered for some time between the Junta and the party of the Queen. With all his vast possessions that he had wheedled from the King, he was never content, and never would be, without the Grand Mastership of the Order of Saint James, an office of such power and revenues that it was bestowed only in the royal family. By the voice of the Order, the exalted honour had been conferred on Prince Alfonso. But, it seemed to the Marqués, the Prince was very young to hold so important a dignity. His intuition led him to the Queen’s antechamber not long after she had suffered Alfonso’s curtain-lecture, and he managed, with many smiles and compliments, to persuade her that the Prince ought to resign the Mastership, at least until he was older. Alas, there was another possibility, one too sad even to think about.

“Whom the gods love-----” But Pacheco’s insinuations to Her Majesty may have been invented by the malice of his enemies. In 1462, however, the King announced that his brother the Prince had “resigned” the Mastership. Pacheco smiled to the very roots of his curly beard.

Now, although Juana had helped the Marqués to this extent, she had views of her own on the appointment of Alfonso’s successor. She had not thought it necessary to trouble Villena with the information that he had a rival for the Mastership. The first intimation the Marqués had of this development was one cold day when the King, on the moment of departing for Madrid, announced the nomination of Don Beltran.

The atmosphere was violently charged when the Court went to Almazan to spend Christmas. There, as luck would have it, an embassy of Catalans came to renounce their allegiance to Juan of Aragon, because he had brought French troops to fight them at Gerona, and to offer it to Castile in return for aid. Flattered and elated, Enrique sent them 2,500 lances—a small force, but large enough to embarrass Aragon at that particular moment. Juan, in desperation, appealed to Louis XI, who promptly offered his services as mediator. Nothing pleased the French king better than to promote a quarrel and then arbitrate it with some advantage to himself.

The three monarchs and the queens of Castile and Aragon met with much pomp and display by the banks of the River Bidassoa in April, 1463. It must have been one of the first great royal spectacles that Isabel and her brother witnessed. After the usual tourneys, feasts and music, the French king and Enrique went to the river bank for a formal meeting, of which Philippe de Gomines has left a vivid picture. The Castilians wore gaudy colours and much gold, and even the slovenly Enrique was overdressed and loaded with jewellery for the occasion, while the French appeared in raiment of severe simplicity, following the example of the sardonic Louis, who had on a short home-spun coat, “as ill-made as possible, for sometimes he wore very coarse cloth, and particularly then. His hat was old and differing from everybody’s else, with a leaden image of the Blessed Virgin Mary upon it. The Castilians laughed heartily at his dress, supposing it his stinginess.” Enrique, a little uncomfortable in his grandeur, looked down with amazement in his watery blue eyes at the bent figure of an old King dressed like a merchant. “In short, the conversation broke up, and they parted, but with such scorn and contempt on both sides, that the two kings never loved each other very heartily afterwards.” Of Enrique the French chronicler cannot resist adding, “He was a person of no great sense, for he had given away all his patrimony, or suffered it to be embezzled from him.” But by all odds the most gorgeous personage at that meeting was the new Grand Master of Santiago, Don Beltran, who, having arrived at Fuenterrabia with an escort of 300 Moorish horsemen from Granada, was seen crossing the swift river in a boat with a sail of cloth of gold, and as he stepped ashore with a lordly air it was observed that he was shod with buskins thickly studded with precious stones; and thus he went to wait upon the King of Castile.

TBC...

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Message  Javier Lun 04 Mar 2019, 10:17 am

The actual negotiations, managed by the Queen of Aragon on one side and by the Marqués and the Archbishop on the other, ended in a solemn treaty whereby peace was declared and Juan of Aragon ceded to Enrique, as the invader, the fortified town of Estrella in Navarre. It was only later, when Enrique sent a force to occupy the place and was denied entry to it, that he saw how brazenly he had been duped. Everyone else had gained something from the adventure. Juan of Aragon, thanks to his shrewd and charming wife, was relieved of an invasion at an embarrassing time. Louis XI, as arbiter between two nations, had increased his prestige and gained an excuse for later interference in Spain. But Enrique had been bought off by a purely imaginary gift. He was furious. Unable to punish Louis or Juan, he denounced the Archbishop and the Marqués as scoundrels and traitors. His suspicions took on some colour from the friendship between Carrillo and King Juan, and from the fact that not long after this the Queen of Aragon entertained Villena en tête-à-tête at dinner, while the noble ladies of her Court waited on him as if he had been a prince of the blood.

Enrique hesitated to proceed openly against the Marqués. Like most cowards of his type, he preferred indirect methods. If his enemies were at all formidable, he liked to have them under his eyes, where he could watch them and punish them cautiously with petty slights and coolnesses. He was afraid of the Archbishop, and felt that he had gone far enough with him for the present. But the Marqués, that treacherous friend, that viper, his own creature, must be humiliated somehow and brought to heel, as in past times. By way of letting Villena know that he had fallen from favour, His Majesty left Madrid without notifying him. The Marqués learned unofficially that the King, the Queen and Don Beltran had gone to Estremadura on the Portuguese border, taking with them the Infanta Isabel.

This could only mean that Beltran, with the Queen’s connivance, had finally gained Pacheco’s place in the royal confidence. But why had they taken the Princess with them? The spies of Villena enlightened him; their Highnesses had gone to Gibraltar to meet the King of Portugal. Alfonso the African, as he had been called since his successful crusade across the straits, was now in his corpulent middle age, but Queen Juana, his sister, had decided to extend her sphere of influence and his by giving him the Princess Isabel in marriage. Don Beltran saw the point, and between them he and the Queen managed to win over Enrique, particularly as His Majesty was in high feather on being apprised that Juana again had hopes of a male heir. Nothing had been said of all this to Villena, for since his dinner with the Queen of Aragon he had been advocating her plan of marrying Isabel to her son Fernando.

TBC...
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Message  Javier Mar 05 Mar 2019, 9:37 am

Meanwhile the widowed Alfonso V, at Gibraltar, was so pleased with the pink-and-white beauty and placid wisdom of the twelve-year-old princess that he invited her to become Queen of Portugal. Isabel thanked him for the honour, which she protested was far beyond her deserts, but begged to inform him that according to the laws of Castile and the wishes of the King her father, now with God, she could not marry without the consent of the three estates of Castile assembled in a Cortes; and naturally, before she could venture on so serious a step, she would have to sound the opinions of many nobles and prelates and commons. Either the child thought of that astute reply herself, or the Archbishop of Toledo, to whom her brother Alfonso had lately appealed for protection, had been instructing her in the rudiments of diplomacy. With her precocious maturity of judgment she probably saw through the wiles of Juana and Beltran, and formed a correct estimate of the character of Alfonso V.

Events suddenly begin to gallop at a melodramatic tempo. Back in Madrid, Isabel hears some alarming news. During her absence her brother has been seized at the King’s orders and locked up in a secret chamber of the Alcázar. He makes various attempts to communicate with her, but fails. Perhaps it is just as well for her peace of mind. Later she will hear that Queen Juana has visited him and has tried to induce him to take some “herbs” for his health; but Perucho Monjarán, a Viscayan, has secretly advised him not to touch them. The Prince’s tutor, sent to teach him Latin, instructs him in certain Renaissance vices. The boy orders him away. In his desperation he manages to get a message of appeal to Carrillo. The Archbishop sends him a promise of help.

The Archbishop keeps his word. He is seen in gleaming mail, armed cap-á-pie, on a huge black war-horse, and over his cuirass flutters a crimson cloak with a great white cross emblazoned on it. Couriers fly over the roads from one end of the kingdom to the other. The feudal retainers of the Admiral are on the march northward. The conspirators have decided upon war. The people, disturbed by many wild rumours, are restless, surly, afraid—whatever happens, it cannot be much worse for them. The great nobles take sides. Many who despise Enrique are drawn to him by loyalty to the ideal of legitimate succession. One of these Don Pedro Gonzalez de Mendoza, Bishop of Calahorra, resists the urgent appeals of the conspirators, who value his character and the influence of his illustrious family. This man will play an important part in the destiny of Isabel and of Castile. Meanwhile all men are asking what Villena will do. With his usual caution he attempts to solve his difficulties by his own methods before resorting to arms; he tries several times to have Don Beltran assassinated, and on one occasion the peerless knight barely escapes. That decides the question for the Marqués. He takes the plunge, he joins the rebels. With him goes his disreputable brother, Don Pedro Giron, Grand Master of the Order of Calatrava.

Assembling their forces at Burgos in the north, the leaders of the Junta appeal to public opinion in a series of memorable representaciones openly addressed to the King. Certain writers of later ages will misrepresent this document, seeing in it nothing but the peevish expression of the greed of Villena, the vanity of Carrillo, and the jealousy of Don Beltran’s other enemies, and failing to discern what gives it such grave importance: the fact that it voices the outraged faith and moral indignation of a whole people. The rebels, whether sincerely or for political purposes, are undoubtedly speaking for the democracy of Spain. The representaciones are like a mirror in which Enrique may be seen as he appears to the first people in Europe to exercise the right of representative and elective government. The signatures of many of the greatest lords and prelates of Castile are affixed to the charges.

TBC...

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Message  Javier Sam 16 Mar 2019, 7:59 am

The King is censured in plain terms for his unchristian opinions and conduct, and his blasphemous and infidel associates, to whose influence are attributed “the abomination and corruption of sins so heinous that they are not fit to be named, for they corrupt the very atmosphere, and are a foul blot upon human nature”; sins “so notorious that their not being punished makes one fear the ruin of the realms; and many other sins and injustices and tyrannies have increased in your reign, that did not exist in the past.”

The King’s Moorish guard, and the renegade Christians whom he has made rulers of Castile, have “raped married women and corrupted and violated virgins, and men and boys against nature; and good Christians who dared to complain were publicly whipped.”

The noblemen declare that that King has allowed in his court open “gibes and blasphemies about holy places and the sacraments . . . especially the Sacrament of the Body of our good and very mighty Lord. . . . This is a heavy burden on your conscience, by whose example countless souls have gone and will go to perdition.” He has destroyed the prosperity of the Christian labouring classes by allowing Moors and Jews to exploit them. His profligacy has so debased the currency that prices have soared beyond all reason, and merchants cannot dispose of their goods at the fairs. His officials practise extortion and bribery on a huge scale, while hideous crimes go unpunished, and robber barons capture citizens and hold them for ransom. He has made a mockery of justice and government by his vicious appointments. He has corrupted the Church by casting good bishops out of their sees and replacing them by hypocrites and politicians.

Then comes a paragraph in which it is not difficult to see a trace of the subtle hand of the Marqués of Villena:
“The thing that makes our hearts bleed 1 is to see Your Highness in the power of the Count of Ledesma.”

And perhaps it is the plain-speaking Archbishop of Toledo, he who has denounced Don Beltran as a monster, who is responsible for the next bombshell:

“Doña Juana, the one called the Princess, is not your daughter.”

Finally, the grave charge is made that Don Beltran “has used the King’s authority to gain possession of the illustrious señores Infantes Don Alfonso and Doña Isabel; to the great injury of your royal dignity and the shame of the inhabitants of these kingdoms, for they fear lest certain persons under the influence of the will of the said Count procure the death of the said Infantes, so that the succession of these kingdoms may devolve upon the said Doña Juana.”

In conclusion the barons “beg and require” that no marriage shall be forced upon the Princess Isabel without the consent of the three estates of the realm, assembled in a Cortes, in accordance with the will of her father King Juan, “and as reason dictates.”

The Grand Mastership of Santiago must be restored to Prince Alfonso.

Prince Alfonso must be recognized as heir to the throne in place of La Beltraneja.

TBC....

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Message  Javier Lun 18 Mar 2019, 10:42 am

When Enrique received those representaciones at Valladolid, he ran immediately to the Queen and the Count, and enacted a scene, while Don Beltran swore, and Juana listened in contemptuous silence. The King was lost, he was betrayed, he would be killed, he must surrender. The next moment he was for cutting off the heads of all the rebels. He thought of fleeing to Portugal. He thought of giving battle. Why could no one advise him? Where was Villena? Why had he ever let him go away?

His paroxysm over, he listened to reason and became confident again. The Queen was certain that her child would be a boy. His birth would rob the conspirators of the issue they had raised over La Beltraneja.

It was not to be. Juana’s son was born prematurely, dead, and La Beltraneja was again the centre of the conflict. Enrique, in a new panic assembled his council and asked for advice.

In the opinion of some, the King still had the whip hand, if only he acted firmly and promptly. Belief in the sacredness of royal authority was stronger in Castile than in Aragon. And if Villena was jealous of Beltran, who was more envied than Villena? His enemies would be the King’s friends. . .

At length the aged Bishop of Cuenca, who had been a counsellor of King Juan II, declared that there were no two sides to the question they were wasting time upon; a king who hoped to preserve his royal authority could have no dealings with rebels who defied him, except to offer them battle.

Enrique’s flabby mouth curled into a sneer. “Those who need not fight nor lay hands on their swords,” he said, “are always free with the lives of others.”

A moment of eloquent silence. The King, it appeared, would purchase peace at any price. There was nothing more to be said. The old Bishop rose, his eyes aflame, his voice trembling with bridled anger.

“Henceforth,” he cried, “you will be called the most unworthy King Spain has ever known; and you will repent of it, Señor, when it is too late!”

Enrique sent a hysterical appeal to the Marqués of Villena. That dexterous gentleman, after quickly weighing the pros and cons, informed his fellow-conspirators that it would be unwise, dishonourable, disloyal, not to say impious, to take the field against the lawful king until all peaceful means had been employed, and he volunteered, if they would delegate him, to obtain from Enrique the best possible terms for all of them. With some reluctance, they agreed, knowing that if anyone could manage the King, it was Villena. A series of conversations followed between the King and the Marqués. The upshot was an agreement known as the Concord of Medina del Campo, perhaps the most humiliating document ever signed by a monarch. For Enrique agreed to these stipulations:

Don Alfonso is recognized as Prince of the Asturias and lawful heir to the throne—virtually a confession of La Beltraneja's illegitimacy.

Don Beltran, Count of Ledesma, will resign the Grand Mastership of Santiago in favour of Alfonso, and will retire from the Court with certain of his henchmen.

Enrique will not increase certain taxes without the consent of the Cortes.

Enrique will hereafter confess his sins and receive Holy Communion at least once a year.

CONTINUARÁ...
Javier
Javier

Nombre de messages : 4068
Localisation : Ilici Augusta (Hispania)
Date d'inscription : 26/02/2009

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ISABELLA OF SPAIN (ISABEL LA CATÓLICA) Empty Re: ISABELLA OF SPAIN (ISABEL LA CATÓLICA)

Message  Javier Mar 19 Mar 2019, 8:37 am

Isabel’s brother had suddenly become a personage of the first importance in Castile. The question arose, who should be his guardian. With amazing short-sightedness, Enrique delivered him into the custody of the Marqués. The royal humiliation was complete.

It gradually dawned upon both the King and the barons that the only ones to profit by the whole transaction had been the Prince and the Marqués. The diminutive but explosive Don Fadrique, Admiral of Castile, was furious. The Marqués, he informed his associates, had made fools of them all.

While Villena was finding a safe place for the keeping of Prince Alfonso, the Admiral came to a mysterious agreement with the Archbishop of Toledo. Taking French leave of their fellow-conspirators before the sun was up, the two galloped as fast as horses would carry them to Madrid, where they requested an immediate audience with the King. Admitted to Enrique’s presence, they humbly professed that they had seen the error of their ways, and were so mortified at the thought of the treachery into which they had been inveigled that they had come to repudiate it and offer His Majesty their loyalty anew. Villena they denounced as an unscrupulous traitor who had betrayed the King and the whole country. With Alfonso in the Marqués’s custody, there would henceforth be two kings in Castile, whenever it pleased Villena to raise the flag of revolt. The Archbishop and the Admiral felt it their duty to come to the King’s assistance. They advised him to revoke the Concord of Medina del Campo, and to demand the restoration of Don Alfonso by that arch-traitor Villena.

Enrique, alternately frightened and flattered, placed himself in the hands of the two late conspirators. To show his gratitude, he gave them the deeds to valuable properties they had long desired. As soon as they left to take possession of their new estates, he repudiated the Concord of Medina, and sent a sharp request to Villena to return the Infante Alfonso to court without delay.

The Marqués and his friends enjoyed a hearty laugh at the King’s naïveté. But it was not until Enrique sent an appeal to the Archbishop to return to Madrid that he realized how completely he had been tricked. His messenger reported having met Carrillo riding fully armed to rejoin the rebels, and on parting at the crossroads, the Archbishop shouted in his booming voice: “Tell your king that I have had enough of him and of his affairs. He shall see who is the true sovereign of Castile.”

Enrique soon learned what that meant. Carrillo and the Admiral, reunited to Villena, had Alfonso proclaimed king at Valladolid. They were planning a larger assembly of the insurgent lords near Avila, and they sent a secret courier inviting the Infanta Isabel, who was living in great suspense with Queen Juana. She pondered, and sent her regrets. The King was almost in despair. The Queen was ill. Don Beltran reluctantly resigned the Mastership of Santiago on condition that he received, among other compensations, the title of Duke of Albuquerque, and retired to Cuellar. There was a tenseness everywhere. Something was about to happen.

TBC....

ISABELLA OF SPAIN (ISABEL LA CATÓLICA) 23915810
Javier
Javier

Nombre de messages : 4068
Localisation : Ilici Augusta (Hispania)
Date d'inscription : 26/02/2009

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